Stylianides calls for elimination of gender-based violence
Stilianides, the EU commissioner for humanitarian aid and crisis management, attended in Slovenia the central event of the Slovenian Development Days (7-18 March), which is dedicated to gender equality.
The commissioner said that more should be done to prevent violence against women in extraordinary humanitarian situations, which was on the rise.
"For the EU, fighting gender-based violence in extraordinary situations is a priority," Stilianides said, pointing to education as one of the most important mechanisms to stop such violence.
"Education is a shield from sexual violence and gender-based violence, forced and child marriages, radicalisation, forced recruitment and many other things," he said, noting that the EU had increased support for education in extraordinary humanitarian situations ten-fold.
Stilianides said that women around the world wanted action, not promises, adding that the "protection of women and girls in extraordinary humanitarian situations is essential, it is our moral obligation."
Simona Leskovar, a state secretary at the Foreign Ministry, said that gender equality was a pre-requisite for sustainable development, eradication of poverty, inclusive growth and well-being of society.
She believes that despite the progress in the recent years, a lot still needs to be done to achieve a true equality of women and men.
Leskovar added that gender equality was also one of Slovenia's priorities in foreign policy, noting that Slovenian diplomats had participated in many successful gender equality initiatives at the international level.
Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities Minister Ksenija Klampfer agreed that creating equal opportunities was the duty of the entire society, especially by preventing and eliminating unequal treatment based on gender.
Klampfer said that Slovenia placed high on lists measuring gender equality, but added that "there is, however, still much room for improvement".
The minister stressed the need for balanced representation of genders in decision-making positions, both in politics and business, eradication of violence against women and achieving economic independence.
"This is a pre-requisite for any serious debate on gender equality," she said, adding that this also required changes in culture, mindset, values and everyday action.
A protest against violence against women was held in Ljubljana's Congress Square later in the day, calling for legislative and social changes which would truly prove that violence against anybody in the society is inadmissible.
Organised by the student organisation Iskra, the protest was attended by a few hundred people, who demanded a new definition of rape, more active and effective measures against discrimination and adequate and timely response of the police to reports of violence.
Mojca Žerak of Iskra told the STA that the protest was held on International Women's Day, and pointed to the importance of the day in terms of labour rights and emancipation, which according to her is not emphasised in Slovenia.
The third annual protest was organised because in Slovenia this day "has no serious meaning besides the empty expressions of gratitude to women and handing of flowers and chocolates", she said.